Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Communion

    One of my favorite parts of church is taking part in communion. It is a time of complete and utter fixation on Jesus and gratitude for his death on the cross. It is a time Jesus set aside Scripturally as a time to meditate on Him and refocus on His sacrifice.

    But I misunderstood communion for many years, so I'd like to write today about this church practice. Quite frequently, we'll hear 1 Cor. 11:27-28 quoted before we take part in the Lord's Supper. These verses say, "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup."

    What I then did with this verse was stress out! Oh, my, but I remember thinking so hard, concentrating during the time before communion to make sure my heart was perfectly clean, confessing anything that could even possibly be considered a sin. No way did I want to go through communion and come out guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord! No way! Communion was a time of rigorous examination of all of my actions of the previous weeks, words, thoughts, emotions, Bible reading, etc.

    And I still remember the Sunday that our pastor in Georgia spoke about the error in that line of thought. His words that day made such an impact on me that I still replay them in my mind when I go to take communion, even after six years.

    When my communion is characterized by my self-examination, my communion becomes self-centered and my eyes leave Jesus. Rather than communion being a reminder of Jesus and His sacrificial death, communion becomes a reminder of my own shortcomings and failures.

    So why self-examine? Well, I believe Paul tells us to examine ourselves so that we see our own failures and shortcomings, but it doesn't stop there. If our examination ends there, communion is pointless. I don't need to come to church and partake in the body and blood of Christ to feel guilty. But our examination leads us on to Christ.

    Yes, my guilt should become clear by my self-examination during and before communion. But that guilt should not drive me deeper and deeper into thought about my sin and my guilt. Rather, it should draw me straight into the arms of Jesus. The guilt I see in myself during the self-examination is the very thing which drives me straight to Jesus and to appreciate His death all the more.

    Communion's purpose is to serve as a visual reminder of the death and sacrifice of Jesus, along with my identity in His body. A part of that is to examine ourselves, seeing my own failure and guilt, and allowing my failure to point me to my Father. And that is where communion is. Communion's goal is not to make you burn with guilt for the rest of the day or stress that you may be taking it unrighteously; it is to be done "in remembrance of Me." That's the purpose.

    Communion that ends after only a self-examination time is just a confessional, and a self-centered one at that. But remember, very little of the gospel is self-centered. Every facet of the gospel points to Jesus Christ, and communion is no exception. Communion is the visual reminder of Jesus in our churches and in our hands.

    Don't miss Jesus by staring at your sin. A glance at the blackness of your sin is supposed to be the impetus to make us turn our eyes up and to Jesus. Our fixation during the Lord's Supper is to be on the sacrifice of Jesus, not on us!

    Celebrate communion. It is not supposed to be a mournful time of harsh and somber examination, but rather a joyful celebration of our Lord's victory over sin. Do not allow our own tendencies toward self-centeredness affect how we celebrate the Lord's supper. Rather, allow God's grace and love to overrun your mind while you bring to mind the examples of His goodness and mercy, specifically His sacrifice and atonement. The examination's purpose is to drive you further into the arms of Jesus.

6 comments:

  1. Communion is one of my favorite parts of Sunday too. A few years ago, during communion, the elder who was doing communion said that "every time we take communion we know we are one week closer to being in heaven with God". We don't know WHEN we are going, but we know that we are getting closer! That is something that still goes through my head every time I take communion, and is the #1 thing that has always "stayed" with me. Anyway, just wanted to share that! :)

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  2. This is a great post. Thanks Taylor!

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    1. Thanks, Cassie! Thank you for reading!

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  3. *light bulb on head lights up* I've been confused by the use of that verse, so many times. But it was always explained as, "look at yourself and feel bad." And I didn't see what else it meant, so I took folks' word for it. This explanation makes so much more sense... :)

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    1. Ha, ha, thank you for sharing! This is why I enjoy writing! I like to think that maybe something I write helps the light bulb come on! You made my evening over here... :) And yes, it really does change your appreciation of the Lord's Supper!

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